Ryan Maifield will line-up on pole position for the 1-hour final that will decide who leaves Australia as the 1:8 Offroad World Champion. The Mugen driver secured the No.1 starting position of the 13 car grid with victory in the second & faster of the two half hour Semi Finals. In the first of the encounters, it was Top Qualifier Ty Tessmann who took the win but only after two late errors by Davide Ongaro. Ongaro’s Team Associated went to the front after two and half minutes as Tessmann made a mistake. The Xray driver briefly went to the front 3-minutes later when Ongaro had a mistake but another mistake from Tessmann handed it right back. Tessmann then started to come under attack from team-mate Bruno Coelho putting up little fight as the Portuguese driver went through to second. Unfortunately it was short lived as the race hit half way Coelho ran out of fuel just as he was coming around to pit. Ongaro’s advantage was now 2.3-seconds over Tessmann but with 4-minute left on the clock the Italian made a mistake that let his rival through. A racy Ongaro tried to take back the lead but a mistake inside the final 3-minutes put an end to that. With the Top 5 directly bumping up, there was a good battle for 3rd. Spencer Rivkin led that until a mistake at 7-minutes dropped him 4 places with the American never recovering. In the end it was Batlle that came out on top ahead of American duo Ryan Cavalieri and Jared Tebo. In the second of the Semi, reigning champion David Ronnefalk would have to settle for second behind Ryan Maifield. The Electric Offroad World Champion got the jump on the pole sitter off the start and lead early on before Ronnefalk took a lengthy turn out front until a number of mistakes dropped him back to second. Behind, having bumped up from the 1/4 Finals, Kyle McBride pleased the local crowd with 3rd place ahead ofNaoto Matsukura and Riccardo Berton who had also come from the 1/4 Finals.
Commenting on his race, his winning time almost 11-seconds faster than that of Tessmann’s, Maifield said, ‘it was good. The car was good. It was easy to drive. I just had a couple of mistakes but got back in the groove’. On his battle with Ronnefalk he said, ‘I was not really trying, I was just putting laps in. Overall it was a good run and when David had a few mistakes I was there to take it’. Looking to the Main event, the culmination of 10 days of racing here in Perth, the JConcepts backed driver said, ‘we’ll make a tyre change for the final, something that lasts a little longer, and see what happens’.
‘Not bad’ was Ronnefalk’s view of the race. Despite Maifield getting him off the line, the Swede added, ‘the beginning was very good. Me and Maifield pulled away and had a huge gap. Then he crashed and I pulled away but I caught 5-cars at the same time. It’s hard enough to take care with the jumps but then I also now had other cars to take care of and I messed up twice so Maifield caught back up’. Regarding his tyres choice for the Semi, he said, ‘I ran Detox but the track dried out and it was too hard to drive. I will prepare Blockers and Detox for the final and decide what is best at the start’, he also plans to make his D817 ‘a little stiffer’. On starting position, he said, ‘Starting P2 is no problem. Once there is no trouble at the start we will be right there.
Reacting to his Semi, Tessmann said, ‘it was OK’, adding, ‘we tried different stuff in the diffs. With rain in the Semi practice it was a mess so what we tried wasn’t good in the Semi’. The 2014 World Champion also went with the wrong tyre saying, ‘we ran too hard a tyre. We switched just before warm-up and it was not the right choice’. He continued, ‘we’ll be ok in the main we’ll just go back with the diffs and tyres’. Asked about the final, he replied, ‘that (the Semi) didn’t feel like 30-minutes out there so the 1-hour should go by pretty quick’.
‘It was really good but 30-minutes with Ty is difficult’, was how Ongaro summed up his race. The breakthrough talent of the Worlds 2-years ago in Las Vegas, he added, ‘the track was difficult because it has a lot of traction now but in some parts of the track I was slightly faster than Ty. I was attacking at the end. I am confident for the final’. Set to start 3rd behind Tessmann, he will change to a harder shock oil for the final but stick with his Semi tyre choice of AKA’s Double Down Soft compound long wear tyre.
2012 World Champion Batlle called his performance ‘so, so’. The Spaniard explained, ‘we changed the piston for the Semi because in the practice it was a little bouncy. With the change the car was not squatting and had good rear traction but it was too soft for the Semi and it was moving around too much’. On his own performance over the 30-minutes he said, it was ok but I had a mistake in the beginning and then had a lot of traffic. After that I stayed 7-seconds from the leaders. The speed as there. We had similar pace but I couldn’t get close to race them. At least we are in the final and I have extended my record of the (driver with the) most World finals’. For the Main he will tweak his set-up to have ‘less roll in the car’.
Completing the Top 3 in the second Semi, with his time putting him 10th on the grid behind the Renaud Savoya and Aaron Stringer, who got through on the fastest times having finished Semi A 6th & 7th, McBride said, ‘we are in there at least so I’m happy with that’. His second bump up of the day the Australian said on the Semi his car was ‘a little edgy’ as a result of the track getting more grippy but he would adjust his set-up for that. He concluded, ‘I’m not the fastest but I’m consistent so if we can make it easier to drive I’ll be good to go’.
New for the 2018 Worlds is the LCS (Last Chance Saloon) Final, a 15-minute affair that gives the Semi finalists who didn’t progress, the chance to become the 13th starter on the grid. A stacked affair, it was this year’s standout performer CJ Jelin who showed immensely cool shoulders as he saw off the pressure of former Worlds Top Qualifier Elliott Boots to book his first of what is sure to be many Worlds Final appearances for the 14-year-old.